Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Simplifying: Do You Have One Favorite Brand?


Back in the old days I shopped primarily at one counter: Prescriptives. My makeup needs have always been fairly minimal, and I was completely satisfied with the custom-blend powder, one Pick-2 eyeshadow palette, one lip pencil, and two lipsticks. I also had one blush that I rarely wore, and I occasionally rotated in (and out) a half dozen eye and lip products from other brands, but the Prescriptives brand worked best for my coloring and my simple needs. They didn't barrage customers with bi-quarterly collections, and they didn't discontinue products as often as brands do today, so I could count on replenishing my staples year after year. I did not consider myself brand loyal as much as I appreciated one-stop shopping. Suffice it to say that such ease and accessibility certainly expedited my morning routine!

Over the ~20 years I enjoyed the Prescriptives brand, they finally discontinued my favorite lipstick (which I still buy from Three Custom Colors), and then they reformulated my favorite, nay beloved, eyeshadow such that I could no longer wear it (hello, oxidation). And then came the crushing news that the Estee Lauder Mother Ship was pulling Prescriptives out of department stores everywhere. As we all know by now, the customer outcry was loud enough that they decided to continue selling Px online, but not before they crippled the brand, as there are far fewer choices and no new colors or formulas.

I realize that many of you love the hunt for a new product almost as much as you love wearing makeup, but for me, finding replacements for my staples is like having to find a new gynecologist. I often feel overwhelmed by choice, and little frustrates me more quickly than having to dig through a basket or drawer of opaque compacts to get something I want. Obviously it would help if I had less from which to choose, but since I currently have heaps (due to feeling lost at sea in a vast ocean of options), I've been casting about for a new all-in-one brand that meets all my needs. Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that it just isn't out there, not for me, anyway.

Getting myself back to those easy mornings has been at the back of my mind for at least 2-3 years, but a friend recently raised the topic, which made realize even more how I just want to get on with it—decide on my new favorites and stop searching, searching, searching. The hunt isn't as much fun as it once was.

Once I make up my mind, I don't look back, so I was disappointed when I discovered that finding my new system was harder than I thought it would be. Maybe it's because I have a few challenges, some of which are new:
  • Age. My skin's texture and appearance is changing. The eyelid skin is not as taut, especially in the creases, and I have slight discoloration on my eyelids from sun damage, which warms up any color I put there.
  • Formula/finish. Increasing lid crepiness means I must now pay attention to an eyeshadow's finish. Unfortunately, when I find a color that flatters me, the finish is often unsuitable. I like creamy, semi-opaque, non-chalky mattes and satin finishes. I do not care for shimmer or metallics. That's not an age thing—I've always preferred matte and satin finishes on whatever makeup I put on my face.
  • Color. I prefer natural-looking eyeshadow and blush, though I don't mind a punch of color to the lips. My delicate coloring means that I am not a good candidate for dramatic colors. I feel clownish in super-bright lipsticks.
  • Hue. I am purely cool toned (not neutral), and there are surprisingly far fewer options for people who are both light and very cool. Most makeup seems to be made for medium-toned, warm-skinned (NC35) people.
There are more challenges, but the above are the dealbreakers for me.

There are several excellent brands that offer makeup in a compact format/system: Ellis Faas, Bobbi Brown, Trish McEvoy, and Laura Mercier, but none of them works for me as a whole because their offerings are too muted, too dark, or too warm.

So what's a girl to do? Find those single items that work and depot, I guess. I gather all of my most reached-for makeup in one palette and go from there.

My everyday, basic, neutral eyeshadows

Boring, eh?  Not a lot of excitement in that palette. Now you might better understand why I never post photos of my EOTD; it's just too subtle.

I put all my basic eyeshadows together for the purpose of taking the above pictures, but usually, my UNII palette contains my Jane Iredale powder and a blush, so several of those eyeshadows get the bump. And as providence would have it, those eyeshadows will now all get bumped after I accidentally discovered two that will replace all others. They are that good, but I want to test them a while longer before I rave about them here.

Do you prefer to paw through lots of little compacts or would you rather have all of them in one palette? Does the thought of depotting freak you out? It did me until I watched a few videos and found out how simple it is (and some compacts can actually be saved). Here's a great tutorial.



Do you have a preferred brand/system or would you rather keep your options wide open and play the field?

Special thanks to Sarasotagirl for bringing this dormant thought to the forefront of my mind.

36 comments:

  1. Hi Zuzu,

    I'd like to start by saying that just the idea of depotting REALLY freaks me out! I know it's very practical and makes sense in every way but I don't think I could ever do it. I think I enjoy clinging to packaging because it means something to me (albeit in a shallow sense). For me it adds to the makeup experience to think "Today I'm reaching for my MAC palette" or my NARS, or whatever. I know it all looks the same when it goes on, but I still can't let go! However, I have seriously considered depotting those pesky sample size shadows or drugstore shadows so I would be inclined to use them more. I do LOVE palettes made for specific brands though. I have Bobbi Brown palettes of 2,3, and 6 pan sizes. And I have a MAC palette; I will only buy permanent color in the depotted style (because again, depotting nice things freaks me out). I think seeing the perfect sizes and organization in a company palette soothes the minor OCD in me.

    As for favorite brands, I also find myself inclined to try and center around one brand. It makes everything match and simple to think about as you mentioned. For me that brand used to be Bobbi Brown. I still love BB colors, but I've found some of the formulations just don't agree with my skin. It was a big step for me when I decided to move on, and it still is a big step for me whenever I decide to dabble in an unfamiliar brand. NARS is probably the closest thing to my centralized brand, but the neutral selection is a little weak.

    Thanks for this entry! I liked it a lot (as usual :)

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    1. Dovey, I do know what you mean about packaging. I feel torn for the very same reason, but I think the part of me that likes to keep it simple wins out. I have to admit that I had major anxiety over depotting that Rouge Bunny Rouge eyeshadow, and the good news is the compact was saved, even if the bottom surface looks a little wumbly.

      After years away, I have just started experimenting with NARS again. I was really happy to see color options that are cool and/or bright and light enough for me (41 BLKR, Lhasa, D. Gorgeous, Violetta (the pale side), Gaiety, Desire ...). For me those ARE neutrals, lol.

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  2. Heh, my reaction on seeing the picture of your eye shadows was NOT boring but "Wow, those are so pretty!" Beauty's in the eye of the beholder, obviously. :D

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    1. Aw! Wait until I revamp the palette to make room for the two new RBR eyeshadows and a couple happy NARS discoveries. The palette won't be as beige looking afterward.

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  3. I like the *idea* of one brand -- in my case, it would be Jane Iredale -- but in reality it doesn't quite work for me. I look elsewhere for my eyebrow pencil, mascara and lipstick. And lip balm, though JI makes a good one.

    I have depotted in the past, but find myself spoiled for packaging these days.

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    1. Right, some items just can't be satisfied with the all-in-one theory. Even when I was a Px happy camper, my eyebrows and lashes came from other brands. That might have been it. I suspect part of my contentment with a single brand was lack of internet. It really wasn't until around the mid/late 90s that I started having access to makeup that wasn't in my local stores ... or at the very least, read about them and decide to drive further than usual to go check them out.

      Jane Iredale is actually a very good contender, at least as far as base, eyeshadow, blush, concealer, and highlighter. I suppose I could use Slate Brown e/s on my brows, but I haven't had much luck with her lip products outside Brett (which turned out to be too warm for me anyway).

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  4. I keep having the urge to simplify while at the same time struggling with the urge to find new favourites. The research and hunt are one of my favourite past times I think! Have you used MAC Painterly Paint Pot. If you use a base like that (or even a cooler fuller coverage base like that) you shouldn't have to worry about the discolouration warming the eyeshadows you apply. I can't live without Painterly! I seem to recall you mentioning at some point Painterly didn't work for you? Hope I'm wrong. LOL

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    1. Painterly is too warm! Hard to believe, because it looks so perfect in the pot, but it turns a very ugly orange on me. I have purchased it at least 4 times, swapped it away, and I have yet another used-once pot to let go in the next blog sale ... which I really need to get cracking on (but taxes first!).

      My best eyeshadow primer is still Paula Dorf Eye Prime in Light. It's a neutral/cool ivory that pretty much erases the discoloration in a very thin layer and lets the blue-tones of my blue-based eyeshadows show true.

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  5. I shop across brands, but I think that's partially because of my allergy; some of a brand's offerings might be okay, but some of them may not be, so I kind of pick and choose. I'm kind of torn about "the hunt," though. I do like finding new products to love, but I also like using up what I have, and it's such a relief to have a few basic stand-bys for busy days. I do root through various compacts and single shadows/blushes/powders though, because I am terrified of depotting and I like the packaging of the items I have.

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    1. Larie, you have a paraben allergy, right? What happens to your skin when you use it? The only thing my skin seems sensitive to is chemical sunscreen. Even the silicones that are present in everything but food these days don't seem to bother me.

      I get a perverse satisfaction from using something up. It occurs so rarely. In the old days, when I hit pan on an eyeshadow (I have never ever ever ever hit pan on a blush), I'd throw it away and replace it with a new one. For some reason, hitting pan meant the eyeshadow was no longer desirable. Now it's a badge of courage!

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    2. I get an itchy rashy skin reaction. The level of parabens in most products is usually actually fairly low, because it's mostly used as a preservative. However, I've been told by my allergist (and I have found that this is true as well with respect to other allergens) that over time, your body can develop a stronger reaction to things it may only have mildly reacted to in the past, so I figure...why aggravate it?

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    3. Your allergist is absolutely right. I developed allergies to my cats and toughed it out for almost 10 long years (with the help of antihistamines) before I was able to desensitize again. I wouldn't recommend sensitization for makeup or food, though. There are plenty of non-irritating options, but my cats were family. ♥♥♥

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  6. I can't deal with depotting because the results are neither tidy nor symmetrical. This tiny touch of OCD is quite laughable given the slobbish chaos I exist in but there it is. Plus I prefer singles for travel.

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    1. I have had some real depotting disasters (poor Chantecaille Pyrite), and I have had some that slipped out of the compact so perfectly you would never know it wasn't sold that way. I just go with the parchment-paper-on-flat-iron method and keep checking so I can 1) get the pan out without cracking it and 2) hopefully save the compact. Chantecaille and Jane Iredale compacts do not stand up well to heat, nor do NARS, but some others fare pretty well. Surprisingly Becca's rubber UFO cases do just fine.

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    2. Oops pinkie hit the send button.

      For travel I ADORE carrying the UNII palette. The mirror is huge, and I can fit foundation, blush, 2 eyeshadows (one I use as brow filler), and a lip pencil and brush into it. In that case, it really is almost a full face. I just add mascara from my makeup bag.

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  7. I just wrote a post about how I'm done shopping for new stuff and that the search is not fun anymore! We think alike Zuzu!
    I think my favourite brands are Chantecaille and LMDB, and I don't have a lot of stuff from them so if I just stuck to them my life would be simple. And that's what I think I'm going to plan on doing.

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    1. Tracy, it's erie how much we think alike. You'd think we were reading the same magazine articles, except the only mag I read these days is This Old House.

      I can't wait to read your post. I think I am finally at my makeup happy place and can stop shopping. In fact, I am considering joining my friend during her April "no buy."

      I don't have very high hopes of getting all my needs met from one brand, but if I can find my perfect products across several brands I don't care. It will be a relief to stop looking, at least until the fall collections.

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    2. Haha I think we are wired the same and I like that. I like having a symbiosis with you. :)
      That's exactly it-I've found such great stuff and am quite happy at the moment and don't want to buy more. All the extraneous makeup interferes with my limited jumbled up cognitive ability lately haha.

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  8. Oh Zuzu! The pictures of your palettes are making me swoon! I am so drawn to these soft mauvey, taupes shades. Unfortunately, I'm finding the very cool tones look very muddy on me. *stifled sob* Case in point, RBR Sweet Dust Seriema makes me look like a Walking Dead.

    Seems like I fall deepy in love with a brand, usually something to do with that brand's beauty philosphy or esthetic. I do have a roving eye for beautiful things, so I'm never too loyal too long. A pretty packaging on a product is always a good enticement as well, so currently Guerlain Ecrin 6 & 4 palettes are among my favorites.

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    1. I agree that the Guerlain palettes are a thing of beauty. If only the outsides were silver or pewter, instead of gold, hee.

      What a shame about Sweet Dust. It sounds like you need the warmth. Does Solstice Halcyon work or is that also too cool? I do prefer the lovely satin finish of SH and wish the two new eyeshadows had the same, but they can't all be gems, I guess.

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    2. I would pounce all over SH if it ever came back in stock! It will maybe come into stock in April at the earliest according to Zuneta. Can't wait to try it.

      Ooh! And thanks for your review of the metamophosis primer. I tried a sample and was hooked.

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  9. I enjoy trying a lot of different brands, different products, but I haven't come across a single brand that is covers all my needs. Even my well-rounded favourites - Guerlain, Chantecaille, NARS, Becca, Shiseido - all tend to fail, or just not suit me, in some area or other. With Guerlain, it's their eyeshadows (too grey-based); Chantecaille, the mascara and eyeliners; NARS, the category of sheer/moisturising lipsticks; Becca, bright pigments; Shiseido... Actually, Shiseido is pretty fab at everything, but their foundation and concealers aren't "wow"-worthy.

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    1. I love how different we all are. The grey-based eyeshadows are exactly what I need, but your favorites are also some of my favorites with the exception of Shiseido. I adore the Pureness skincare line, and I had terrific luck with the luminizing blush, but the eyeshadows and lipsticks (so far) have not been winners on me--as stunning as they appear in the pan or tube.

      I have never tried Chante mascara, but for a brief period I liked the Le Stylo liner. I think, overall, I just prefer using powder eyeshadow as liner, which I can use plain or with a transformer liquid. Chante eyeshadows can be really nice, too. Because many are designed with Olivia in mind for the model, I luck out because she appears to be quite cool toned.

      As for NARS, the best colored lipsticks really are in his matte and satin lines, but I don't wear that formula anymore. I do like sheer Flamenco a lot, but I have a similar-colored red that I prefer (LM Sweet Cherry) and I don't need two.

      Sometimes I think my desire to streamline into one brand is a theoretical fantasy. Put into practice, it doesn't work so well. But fantasy around makeup is such fun!

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  10. I really enjoy depotting my products and having them in a single palette. That said, I don't own much, and it has taken a little while to find the "perfect" palette. I depot for convenience sake -- so I don't have to deal with bulky generic packaging. However, I don't depot items with packaging that I like.

    Also, I don't think your palette is boring! I appreciate that each item was carefully and deliberately selected. It's wonderful that you've found so many HGs.

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    1. Thanks, BooBoo. I bet your palette is beautiful. I often sigh with pleasure when I see all my favorites in one place.

      The challenge with a collection of HGs is that I assumed it would work forever. Stila Ecru, for example, used to be the most perfect base shade with its pale pinkish-ivory semi-matte finish. When Stila discontinued this gorgeous basic, I bought as many as I could find ... and I went a bit overboard (I think I have 10). I say "overboard" because even if I used ONE eyeshadow every single day, it would still take a year or more to use up. So in this case, by the time I started my third pan of Ecru, I was ~6 years older (I wasn't using only that eyeshadow every day). My eyelid skin was no longer as oily as it had been, and the surface was starting to get crinkly—so it didn't respond to the eyeshadow's formula the way it once did, and now it looked chalky. And I can forget about Stila's new formula, which went straight down the tubes.

      So, I think I have decided that when I actually use something up, it's a sign to try something new.

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    2. Oh no! Ten?!

      I hope you don't mind but I chuckled after my initial shock passed. You make a good point in saying the HGs of today are not necessarily the HGs of tomorrow. I fell into that trap with my Urban Decay Brow Box. Granted, I bought a "back up" when I thought I had lost my "first up", but having the extra one sitting in a basket kinda bugs me because I have found things that I prefer to it. I don't know when or how I will ever finish the second Box. I'm currently not using the original Box but I'll probably go back to it sooner or later.

      Anyway, I think your last sentence is pretty much true for me. I'm too new to makeup and there's too much yet to be explored for me to be "settling" for things now.

      ps I just emailed you. Cheers!

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  11. I have coloring VERY similar to you. I stick to a few brands that do our skin tone well, Armani, Chanel, Nars. Foundation is VERY tricky. And yes, I too wore Prescriptives back in the day. I still enjoy the hunt, sort of, but I also like just wearing what works.

    BTW, Sisley makes a nice foundation/lipstick, but damn that stuff costs a lot of money.

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    1. Hi, LPC. I have always wanted to try Armani. I once received a sample tube, and the texture was divine. So far, the best color match I have EVER found in liquid foundation is Make Up For Ever Face & Body #38 (Pink Porcelain). It as though it were made for me, but I tend to not seek out liquid foundations because I find them to be a semi nuisance. If I don't use a primer and/or the Beautyblender sponge, I can get Frankenpores by lunchtime.

      I have always wanted to see Sisley in person. I was once given an eyeshadow and the texture and finish made me weep, but the color (I think it was called Dune) was too warm.

      I don't mind paying for quality. I have a few Cle de Peau items I like very much, and I recently splurged on a Suqqu brush that was the best purchase of the year. Zero regrets, it's that good. I would be very happy with, as my friend veuve says, "a very small, luxe stash." I think I'm getting there.

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  12. Wonderful post. I couldn't have said it better myself.

    After reviewing one too many CC statements for products that have failed to deliver (when a small vacation would have been a better investment of same funds), I've tried to curtail my spending, mostly, though--not simply for the lack of pleasure in most new products--for all the stress that the "fun" hunting was providing.

    Still on the market for near-perfection, and I do think taking care of oneself requires constant tweaking, but enough has been enough.

    Bobbi Brown comes closest to a singular line that works for me. Laura Mercier is a close second (if she only made a longer-wearing liquidy/gel liner!). Chanel and LMbD are in the running but price keeps me from over indulging. Chantecaille is a line I wanted, so very badly, to be the perfect line, but it never hits the mark (fine for my wallet).

    I am amazed at how much sanity I've been regaining since putting a hold on the MU shopping.

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    1. Sophia, I am so very tempted to put myself on a no-buy. I want to announce it, but I would be so humiliated if I had a whopping pubic failure. But just this morning, I was thinking about retirement and wondered if dumb spending habits might force me to work long past my expiration date. I love what I do and feel very fortunate that I get paid to do it, but I would love for it to be all over by the time I hit my early 60s. I want to still be young enough to enjoy a decade or two of fun and travel and collecting memories, not things!

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  13. The idea of depotting wigs me out too. I like seeing all the pots and compacts lined up in my make-up boxes.

    Nars is my central brand; powder, blush, eyeshadows with the odd specific product from another line thrown in- Maybelline Great Lash, Clinque Chubby sticks and Mac Paint Pots. Sensitive, dry skin means I have to be careful about my make-up and skin-care choices.

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    1. It's great that you have a system, Mopsy. I really do like NARS eyeshadow, blush, and some of the lipsticks, but I've yet to try anything skin-based, like foundation or powder.

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  14. I've never been a one brand woman and I never will be. The choices are half the fun! A part of me does want to stick to one quality brand and be assured for years that my makeup will be excellent and flawless, but I honestly can't help but to flit around and sample this and that. Generally speaking, I like L'Oreal from the drugstore and favour Laura Mercier in the mid/high range. Lately I'm looking more and more at Chanel. But there is no one brand that caters to my needs and I prefer having choices.

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    1. Liz, your favs are also my favs. L'Oreal has come such a long, long way since the nasty-tasting lipsticks in the 80s. Loved the nail polish back then, though.

      Ah, Chanel. I just can't warm up to it. Maybe that's just it. Much of it is too warm for me. Or too shimmery. I guess I am still mad at them and taking it out on their makeup. ;)

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  15. Hi,
    I just discovered your blog today. This post really got my attention, because it's a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately.

    I used to be total Clinique devotee; much like you with Prescriptives, I had a little basket of makeup and tended to purchase only when something ran out. Strangely, over time, I started developing allergies to some of their products. I got online to find some suitable replacements, discovered YouTube beauty videos, realized my makeup was a bit outdated, did a good bit of exploration, and ended up with more makeup than I can ever use!

    It was a good thing, in a way. I needed to get out of a rut and try some new things. But now I'm ready to downsize my collection and focus on a few favorites.

    I was looking at the products I use the most, and I've found that my favorites are all from Chanel, Guerlain, and Lancome.

    Chanel is my "central" brand (as Mopsy described in her comment). I don't care much about the packaging, but the quality is consistently good, and their colors and foundation tend to suit me well.

    Guerlain I buy mostly for the packaging. :) Sometimes it's just too pretty to pass up. But the prices keep me from over-buying this brand.

    And Lancome is the only one of these brands that's available in my local mall. It's my favorite of the big brands, so if I'm going to make an impulse purchase, it usually happens at the Lancome counter.

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    1. Ah, Guerlain does have beautiful packaging. Though I am not a fan of the Rouge G lipsticks, mostly because the tubes take up so much room. I do like Chanel packacing, primarily because I prefer minimalist compacts that I can stack. I also like black. Sadly, the insides don't do it for me, as much of Chanel is too warm for me.

      For reason, I never got into Lancome. I do wear Defincils, but other than experimenting with a couple lipsticks, that's about it. When I was younger, I found the colors to be too vivid, but things certainly have changed since then. It just occurred to me that I know of no Lancome counter at any of the local malls within a reasonable driving distance. I have no idea why they've been pulled (if they have been--maybe I just am not "seeing" them), but it seems department stores in this area are cutting down to the EL mothership brands, plus Chanel, and filling up the middle with what I call mini Sephoras.

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